David Frances Barry, American (1854 - 1934)

David Frances Barry arrived in Fort Abraham Lincoln, Dakota Territory, in 1875. He became an apprentice, business partner, and employee of frontier photographer Orlando Goff. Following the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 26, 1876, newspapers and magazines around the country were eager for news from the western Plains. Depictions of notable Sioux, such as Sitting Bull, greatly contributed to Barry’s success in the East as a freelance photographer. Barry’s native subjects gave him the name “Icastinyanka Cikala Hanzi” or “The Little Shadow Catcher,” because his photographs seemed to transplant the human body onto a piece of paper.

Early on, Barry constructed a portable tent studio that could be assembled at any location. On May 6, 1880, he struck out on his own and traveled to Fort Buford, in what is now North Dakota. Following the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Sioux refused reservation life and continued to dominate the plains between Yellowstone and parts of southern Canada, all the while pursued by the U.S. military. Working throughout Dakota Territory (present-day North Dakota and Montana), Barry befriended and photographed many famous military personnel, Native Americans, scouts, and hunters. Among the many notable personalities he photographed were John Grass, Rain-in-the-Face, Sitting Bull, and Chief Gall.

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